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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pieper's error (Monier-Williams, not Max Mueller)

In all my extensive reading of Dr. Franz Pieper, I found one error.  That I found such an error stunned me because Pieper was intellectually so bright and meticulous that it seemed impossible that he could make such an error.  On the other hand, the error is certainly not one of doctrine.  What was Pieper's error?
On page 15 (volume I) of his Christian Dogmatics book, he quotes "Monier-Williams" extensively on his comparative study of religions.  This person was a professor of Sanskrit in the University of Oxford for 40 years (or more).  However, footnote 22 on page 16 states:
"Max Mueller: wrong name."
But further references in the English language Christian Dogmatics continues the use of the name "Max Mueller" instead of "Monier-Williams".  And the index Volume IV of this work only lists the person of "Max Mueller". So I went to the original German text in his Christliche Dogmatik and found that Dr. Pieper originally identified this person as "Max Mueller" with no mention of the name of "Monier-Williams".

The truth is that the person who wrote so eloquently that all religions except Christianity teach "salvation by works" was indeed Monier-Williams, not Max Mueller.  So I wrote to Oxford University back in 1997 to inquire more about this matter and a Mr. Gombrich replied and determined that indeed the person who wrote the essay on comparative religions to the British Bible Society could only have been Monier-Williams.  This can be clearly confirmed by the article in Wikipedia about Monier-Williams. I then wrote to Concordia Publishing House to try to find out who corrected Pieper's error in the English edition.  Mr. Ken Wagener replied that he could not determine who corrected this error by the notes available to him.

So I have a theory that some other fellow professor reported to Pieper the essay on comparative religions and gave him the wrong name of the author as Max Mueller. And Dr. Pieper accepted this report without confirming it and so it was likely a trusted associate... perhaps Prof. A.L. Graebner, or Prof. W.H.T. Dau.

So what was written by Monier-Williams that so impressed Pieper to quote him several times in his writings?
"In the discharge of my duties for forty years as professor of Sanskrit in the University of Oxford, I have devoted as much time as any man living to the study of the Sacred Books of the East, and I have found the one keynote, the one diapason, so to speak, of all these so-called sacred books, whether it be the Veda of the Brahmans, the Puranas of Siva and Vishnu, the Koran of the Mohammedans, the Zend-Avesta of the Parsees, the Tripitaka of the Buddhists – the one refrain through all – salvation by works. They all say that salvation must be purchased, must be bought with a price, and that the sole price, the sole purchase money, must be our own works and deservings. Our own holy Bible, our sacred Book of the East, is from beginning to end a protest against this doctrine..."
Although the Wikipedia article on Monier-Williams makes no mention of his essay to the British Bible Society, I am presenting it here to honor him.

[2017-05-31: see my later expanded blog posts on Monier-Williams]

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